Depending on where you buy or adopt your new furry friend, you might not be 100% certain and will always wonder, “what breed is my dog?“ This is most common when a dog is a mixed breed (better known as mutt), which often happens when people do a good thing and adopt puppies or older dogs from a shelter or rescue stray dogs.
Naturally, you know that you will love your dog no matter what breed he turns out to be. However, having an understanding of your dog’s breed will allow you to have plenty of information about the breed’s history, your dog's temperament, common health issues, and many other extremely useful facts.
With all of that out of the way, many dog owners are simply curious and will continue questioning what breed is my dog. Determining your dog's breed by yourself can be a challenge, and you have two options:
- Do your own research;
- Outsource this task to professionals;
- Use an accurate dog DNA test kit.
Either option can work very well, or only somewhat well, but these methods are the only ones we currently have available for dog owners to answer the common question, “what breed is my dog?” Naturally, using a dog DNA test kit is the surest way to find out your dog's breed as well as your canine's predisposed health problems and potential diseases.
If you want to learn more about dog DNA tests, how they work, how effective they are, and how the whole process of testing your dog's DNA looks like, I recommend you watch and read our review of Embark‘s new canine DNA testing kit using the below link. For more information, listen to our podcast interview with Embark CEO Ryan Boyko.
WATCH & READ MORE: Embark Dog DNA Test Kit Review & Testing the Kit
How Can I Tell What Breed is My Dog?
1. Search dog breed photos and compare
For the most inaccurate result to answer the question of what breed is your dog, go for the ballpark figure: give it a shot (although you probably already did).
It may be a tedious and time-consuming way to guesstimate what breed you have, but comparing your dog to pictures of different breeds may be the simplest way to figure out what breed your canine is.
If your dog is a mixed breed, you may be able to find similarities from multiple dog breeds and you will just have to make your most educated guess. If your dog is fully grown, you could take measurements and observe some of its features including coat color, fur thickness, temperament, and physical structure.
Doing research on these qualities will help you narrow down the search as well.
2. Get a professional's opinion
Veterinarians first, and then dog groomers and other canine experts and professionals that deal with many different dog breeds on a regular basis can be a great resource if you’re trying to figure out what breed is my dog.
These people have hands-on experience with hundreds of different purebred and mixed breed dogs, and they know the characteristics that make them unique.
Even if a canine professional won't be able to tell you for sure (and unfortunately, there is no way of assessing a dog's breed with 100% certainty), getting their educated opinion can provide you with a great starting place for further research.
RELATED: Canine Genetics – How to Make a Dog
Pair this with your own research on the dog's breed from the #1 point as well as the advice given below, and you'll be able to get the absolute most accurate assessment of what breed your dog may be in the end.
3. Try a dog DNA testing kit
For the most accurate guesstimate on what breed your dog is, the best way out of all three of these that gives you close to complete certainty is to pay for a dog DNA test kit. This can be done at some vet clinics but the test may cost quite a bit of money.
The good news is that you can order your own in-home dog breed DNA test online for a lot cheaper and do this breed assessment by yourself (which is extremely easy and straightforward).
Usually, dog DNA test kits can cost anywhere from $70 to $90 depending on where you get them and what kind of test you buy. There are a few tested and proven ones on Amazon. The most popular four are:
Collecting the DNA sample of your dog is as easy. You just swab your dog’s cheek with a cotton swab, as Angela has mentioned in her Wisdom Panel DNA test kit review. Then all you have to do is seal the swab inside the container that was provided, and mail it to the lab.
Once the lab analyzes the sample, they will email you a report telling which breeds were detected in your dog’s DNA. The results can take a few weeks to get back, but then you will know for certain what breed of dog you own. This is hands down the best way to find out which breed your dog is.
What does science say about this?
Even with all the popularity of these doggy DNA testing kits, one thing you should know is that according to studies, these DNA tests are not 100 percent reliable in answering what breed is my dog.
There are many variables that come into play when you test your dog's DNA, and although different labs have different accuracy ratings, none of them can ever be a foolproof guarantee (but the results will be very close to reality).
In the end, whatever way you choose to figure out your dog's breed, you should definitely already have a good sense of which breed you might have and you can always start there. Pairing all three options listed above is the best way to go.